Masons at Work

Stefan Bürger
Technische Universität Dresden
Irregularity as a Stimulus for Order or an Impetus toward Chaos: The Virtuoso Art of Stone Masonry in the Marienkirche in Pirna
The vaulting of St Mary’s Church in Pirna is one of the most spectacular creations of the Late Gothic in Germany. Due to changes in the construction plans St Mary’s Church has an irregular ground plan. The regular design of the vaulting was meant to achieve a uniform design of the space. The plan for the vaulting however collided with the irregularity of the space.

The master builder dealt with this problem in an extremely intelligent manner, making the disturbances a component of the architectonic concept. He emphasised the irregularities and reshaped them into regularities, staged them as an ambivalent moment between irregularity and regularity, or disguised irregularities by means of completely free, irregular creations.

The architectonic elements did not simply remain an artificial end in itself, rather they served a conscious staging of differing phenomena, in order to visually represent “order” and “chaos”. A detailed analysis of the architecture shows how such “architectonic images” stand in relationship to the vault painting and how the architecture reacts to a visual programme conceived previously.

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